The Beer Issue | Cover Story | Salt Lake City
Beer, There and Everywhere
Weekend forecast: 100% chance of brews at the Utah Beer Festival.
Utahns are living through the hottest, driest summer on record. We’ve choked on toxic dust from our exposed lake bed. We’ve watched our lawns and gardens wither away and die. We’ve cowered for scraps of shade between boiling, exposed swaths of concrete and asphalt.
Now, July is over, temperatures are finally dropping, and we all deserve a drink.
Just in time to wet the parched gullets of thirsty souls across the Beehive State, the 12th annual Utah Beer Festival is upon us. Over two days at The Gateway, guests can sample from among 250 beers offered by more than 70 beer vendors, along with food and music and more (including booths for the American Cancer Society’s “Colors of Cancer,” technology app Econus, discount medical cards from Utah Canna, educational materials from WholesomeCo Cannabis as well as non-alcoholic beers and cocktails)—and all in the heart of our beautiful capital city.
To help readers prepare for the dozenth iteration of Utah’s booziest party, City Weekly is proud to offer the 2022 Beer Issue. Inside these pages, readers will find an A-to-Z guide to the state’s brewing scene and a roundup of the year’s brew news from Mike Riedel, the authority for all things beer in the Beehive. Writer Aimee L. Cook checks in on a handful of the breweries—and a new cidery!—pouring rounds around town. And arts and entertainment editor Scott Renshaw has the details on how to get the most out of your festival experience.
So, in honor of the scorcher season we just survived, let’s raise a glass, kick up our feet and enjoy the remaining—and slightly more hospitable to human life—weeks of summer as we wind our way down to fall. Much like our temperatures, Utah’s beer community has never been hotter, and if there’s one thing desert living teaches us, it’s the importance of staying hydrated.
Chief Beverage Officer
The A to Z of Utah Beer
By Mike Riedel
Utah’s prolific brewing scene has become so dense, it begins to read like the alphabet. So we thought, let’s scour this Utah-shaped hole in the map and see if we could put our theory to the test. Could we cover the Utah craft beer scene from A to Z? The delicious answer follows.
Altbier (Bohemian, bohemianbrewery.com): Altbiers, or “oldbeers,” are kind of a hybrid style. They’re made with ale yeast, but fermented cooler for longer periods of time, similar to lagers. This “Alt” from Bohemian pours a clear reddish brown. The nose has strong toast with some medium caramel sweetness and a hint of pine. The taste has strong malt up front with toasty crackers and cocoa. Grassy and herbal hops pop in next, with a hint of earthy cherry and biscuit in the finish. A Utah staple since 2014.
Black Rock Wit (Bonneville, bonnevillebrewery.com): Different from saisons, witbiers are wheat-based, with an emphasis on coriander and orange peel. Bonneville’s has a dull, cloudy yellow color with an aroma that’s sweet and fruity, redolent of banana, pear and sweet melon. The taste starts with sweet spices, banana, melon and some coriander; bready wheat follows, but the fruit flavors dominate. The finish was very mild with light, floral hops and the mouthfeel is light with moderate carbonation.
Chasing Haze (2 Row, 2rowbrewing.com): One of Utah’s most prolific IPA makers has created an ale that is a master class in the kind of fruit flavors that can be coaxed from malt and hops. It looks like orange juice, and the nose is super aromatic and fresh with citrus, mango, papaya and melon. The taste opens with clementine, mango and overripe cantaloupe. It’s super juicy, but not overly sweet, and finishes dry with a subtle orange and grapefruit peel bitterness. Probably one of 2 Row’s most well-rounded hazy IPAs.
Dos Hazy Boi (Bewilder, bewilderbrewing.com): This 8.0 percent double IPA features a salad of fruity hops that produce aromas of orange, grapefruit pith, passionfruit flowers, honey and pine. A creamy orange, tangy, sweet and salty rounded malt hits first, followed by a dry hoppy center. Tingly grapefruit, honey, floral and honey ride along, adding a tang to the sides and tip of the tongue. Hops are more citrus pith, and the malt holds it together for a well-balanced beer.
English Mild (Desert Edge, desertedgebrewery.com): In the “low point” days, beers like this were made in keeping with Utah’s ABV standards. There’s some nice flavor in this beer; the toasty notes with light chocolate and a touch of toffee are in sync with a slight residual sweetness. Ultimately, it does what it should: dry out the mouth to prepare it for the next sip. The role of hops in here is strictly bitterness, it seems, succeeding to tame perceptions of sweetness.
Fest Devious (Epic, epicbrewing.com): This one is brewed for Oktoberfest season, and it’s one of my favorite lagers from Epic. It smells of biscuits and grainy caramel malt with not quite toffee levels of sweetness, more like toasted cereal. Very subtle yeasty notes emerge, and some sassy leafy, grassy and piney green hop bitters. The taste is bready and doughy caramel malt, a touch of biscuity toffee, the remains of a cigar aficionado’s day and more well-tamed leafy, weedy and herbal noble hoppiness.
Golden Boy (Heber Valley, hebervalleybrewing.com): This wonderful amber lager from our pals in Heber Valley has a malt-dominant nose, with an earthy, toasted nuttiness as the focal point. The flavor profile follows the nose step-for-step. It’s undermalted, even for the style, with that same nuttiness that reminds me of a helles. There isn’t enough barley on board for more than a token amount of sweetness, which leaves more hoppy bitterness than beer of this style usually displays.
Honey Cream Ale (Grid City, gridcitybeerworks.com): Locally made beers with locally sourced ingredients are always enticing when searching out craft brews. This ale is loaded with local honey, and you can taste it. Hops are floral and light, and the beer finishes dry. If you’re a fan of honey ales, this one may go to the top of your list. Try it on nitro or from the cask; it enhances the honey.
Irish Coffee Stout (Hopkins, hopkinsbrewingcompany.com): This take on a classic cocktail is brewed with Irish whiskey and coffee beans. Coffee and stouts go hand in hand. They’re naturally close in their flavor profiles, so it’s a no-brainer that Hopkins would brew one up. Full of the roast characteristics you’d expect from an Irish stout, complemented with heavy coffee notes and a touch of whiskey.
Jalepeño Blonde (Kiitos, kiitosbrewing.com): You’ll never come across a beer style more divisive than this one. When it comes to chile beers, you’re either going to love them or hate them. The key to a good chile beer is, of course, the heat component. The amount of fuego present can take it from an enjoyable sushi companion to a flamethrower fuel. Luckily, Kiitos’ crew managed to keep this one in check with nice pepper essence and mildly scratchy heat.
Kolsch (Moab, themoabbrewery.com): When your brewery is located in one of the most beautiful desert regions in the world, you need beers that reflect the area’s sensibilities and, of course, have that quenching factor. Though this style hails from Koln, Germany, this North Rhine-Westphalian ale is perfectly designed for the arid Moab climate. It’s full of light grains, floral hops and a fruity yeast that, when combined with lighter alcohol and a refreshing snap, ensure enjoyment for hours of arch-gazing.
Lemon Basil Gose (Ogden River, ogdenriverbrewing.com): An American take on another German ale takes our “L” beer in directions you may have never imagined. Traditional Leipzig-style Goses are tart with light but noticeable saltiness—and a bit of coriander added. The crew at Ogden River opted for something less traditional that adds a nice zing that’s unmistakably basil to this sour beer. Pairs well with creamy pasta and roast-beef sandwiches.
Mild Child (Fisher, fisherbeer.com): The Fisher Beer portfolio that existed in the early 1900s was, for the most part, fairly small. Beer was more about hydration and nutrition back then—unlike today, where beer has become more of a luxury beverage. We don’t know for a fact that Albert Fisher made a light toasty ale, but odds are good that something similar was around. This century’s incarnation of Fisher Brewing Co. has made a period beer that would have fit in 100 years ago as well as today.
Nectaron (Offset, offsetbier.com): This is not the name of a lame Transformer that turns into a navel orange. This beer is named for a New Zealand hop that has been in development for the past 17 years. It has intense tropical pineapple, passion fruit and stone fruit characters. Nectaron displays high levels of tropical fruit characteristics, as well as stone fruit (peach) and citrus (grapefruit). Offset Bier loves to experiment with cutting edge stuff like this, and we all benefit from it.
OPP IPA (Policy Kings, policykingsbrewery.com): Utah’s only Black-owned brewery can always be relied on to keep things interesting from their home base in Cedar City. The family-owned pub keeps the suds flowing with beers that are full of hop flavor and aroma, and tastes featuring clean malt, citrus and floral hops with a ton of tropical fruit. OPP is very clean and polished overall, juicy but with a dry finish. It definitely leaves us wanting more.
Powder Buoy (Park City, parkcitybrewing.com): This beer’s name comes from the story of a weather buoy out in the seas near Hawaii and refers to its predictive nature for forecasting “powder days” in Utah. It’s not super scientific, but the damned thing seems to work pretty well—just like this beer. It’s not technically super scientific, either, but its reliability in the flavor department keeps us chasing that crispy cold thing we crave: the beer—not the snow.
Quadrupel Ale (Shades, shadesbrewing.beer): Inspired by the Trappist breweries of Belgium, a Quadrupel is a Belgian-style ale of great strength with even bolder flavor compared to its sister styles Dubbel and Tripel. Typically a dark creation that plays within the rich, malty palate and spicy phenols that are usually kept to a moderate level, Shades’ interpretation is sweet on the palate with a low bitterness yet clearly perceived alcohol. The next time you come across one these, age it for a couple (or a few) years.
Rauchbier (TF, tfbrewing.com): This is another one of those beer styles people will either love or hate. Centuries ago, all beers were basically rauchbier (smoke beers), made over open fires, where the smoke would very often make its way into the beer, flavoring it with whatever wood was used. Closed-kettle brewing eventually eliminated that component, but that didn’t keep dedicated brewers from adding the smoke back whenever they craved it. The brilliant beer from TF is an excellent example of smoke and malt working together once again.
Snap Down IPL (Squatters, squatters.com): When IPLs (India pale lagers) were introduced, they were seen as a way to capitalize on the IPA craze and help spread the hop love into the lager-lovers market. For the most part, that is true, but IPLs are more than that. They keep the fun hop profiles while losing the fruity flavors from the yeast, creating a cleaner, more refreshing bitter beer. Snap Down is a brilliant example of this style that works perfectly on CO2 or the nitrogen tap handles.
Trader IPA (Uinta, uintabrewing.com): In the land of session beer, no one should be surprised that Utah’s own Uinta Brewing would be one of the trailblazers into this infamous beer subcategory. Back in the early 1990s, this beer was simply known as India and was considered to be an English-style Session IPA. Over the decades, it’s undergone a few recipe and name changes to keep up with beer nerds’ tastes and drinking habits, but it’s always remained light and sessionable, full of hops from the past and present. An excellent companion over these many years.
Udder Chaos (Talisman, talismanbrewingco.com): With a name like Udder Chaos, you’d think that this would have to be beer that utilizes milk sugars in some way. You’d be right. For me, there’s no better use for locatose (milk sugars) than sticking it into light and oatmeal stouts. It’s the combination of the roastiness and sweetness that always seems to work for me. This fine example provides the heavy roast and cocoa you’d expect along with that unmistakable dairy sweetness.
VBC Stout (Vernal, vernalbrewing.com): Vernal Brewing Co., in eastern Utah, may not get the same play as those breweries that are down the street from you. But don’t dismiss them—there are some cunning brews coming from dinosaur land. Vernal’s stout is one of those sleepers, showcasing an earthy, roasty nose with the sweet scent of oats and cocoa. The taste is toasty, bitter and lightly creamy, with cool, firm bitterness from hops. Their spice mingles with the sweetness of the oats as cereal grain and bitter coffee round it out. Go east, young man.
Wonderful Winter Ale (Wasatch, wasatchbeers.com): Beer nerds of a certain age may remember the pine crates in grocery stores that appeared over the holidays every year filled with Wasatch’s Christmas Ale. Then came a brilliant, amped-up version called Winterfest. Wonderful Winter Ale continues the holiday tradition with this malty, lightly-spiced and hopped ale that has become a necessary part of the holidays in Utah.
XIV Anniversary Barleywine (Uinta): The first barleywine ever made in Utah. For years, the brewers at Uinta would make this grand, malty beer—and hop it generously. The nose is malty and boozy with pine and citrus. The taste starts with raisin, pumpernickel and sherry notes. Resiny hops come next, revealing a touch of whiskey. The finish is sharp with alcohol and bitterness lingering on the tongue. Rumors abound that this brew may soon return.
Yellow Snow (Prodigy, prodigy-brewing.com): This Steam Beer or California Common style beer comes from Prodigy, Utah’s newest craft brewery located in Logan. The beer is akin to the world famous Anchor Steam, the originator of its style. Due to lack of refrigeration, these beers were originally thought of as a “cheap beer” because they were fermented with lager yeast at near-ale temperatures. But this ain’t cheap beer. Prodigy’s offering picks up on this tradition with a brilliant, copper-colored beer boasting smooth caramel malt notes, but with noticeable hop bitterness and finish is remarkable.
Zólupez Pale Ale (Cerveza Zólupez, zolupez.com): When Javier Chavez set out to create Cerveza Zólupez in late 2018, Utah had no idea what they were in store for. Creating a line of unique Mexican-themed beers—based on old European styles—sounds like a risky gamble, but Chavez’s dream and recipes paid off. This Mexican-inspired ale is brewed with barley, pineapple, hops, brown sugar and spearmint. There are some stellar flavor additions here, including just a little bit of bitterness and a bit of minty hop flavor. The brown sugar is super nice, toasty, slightly sweet—and at the perfect intensity level. It’s also a great pineapple feel here, as it’s sweet, but not overwhelmingly so.
There’s so much more to uncover. This is just a taste of what’s out there, waiting for you to discover. You can always find the letter that’s right for you.